Asahi acquires SABMiller’s remaining European brands

Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings, has agreed to acquire five Eastern European beer brands formerly owned by SABMiller for ¥900bn yen ($7.81bn).

The assets which were acquired from AB InBev includes Czech market leader Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie and Lech in Poland, Hungary’s Dreher, Ursus in Romania and Topvar in Slovakia.

The transaction is expected to close in the first-half of 2017. It would be Asahi’s biggest acquisition to date and the second biggest acquisition by a Japanese brewer, behind beverage giant Suntory Holdings Ltd, which purchased Beam Inc in 2014 for nearly $14bn.

Asahi shares closed down 4.6% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as nervous investors wondered how the deal would be funded.

The company said that the deal would help position its overseas business as a growth engine to transform itself into a global powerhouse. The brewer purchased three of SABMiller’s European brands (Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime) from AB InBev earlier in April for $2.9bn.

Japanese brewers have been shopping for deals abroad as its $21bn home market stagnates due to a shrinking and aging population.

For AB InBev, the divestment caps the end of asset disposals meant to satisfy European antitrust regulators to get the green light to acquire SABMiller.

Analysts think there might have been competition for the assets, which pushed up the price. Asahi had originally set aside $3bn to $4bn for the deal.

Others who bid for the assets include Swiss investment firm Jacobs Holdings; PFF, the investment firm of Czech business tycoon Petr Keller and China Resources, sources said.

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